The Enneagram is ruining my life

by - December 12, 2017

I have to take a break in my final project and exam grading schedule to let you know what is absolutely ruining my life at the moment. First of all, it feels like winter, and I'm 100% ready for summer, which means I probably should pick up some vitamin D supplements today on the grocery run. Second, I was sick for a whole week with a fever and cough that turned into a snot-fest-ear-infection and led to 10 days of antibiotics. I felt very sorry for myself, and honestly, I still feel a little sorry for myself about it. Scoops was out of school for four days with his own fever and cough, and we watched a lot of Star Wars The Clone Wars as the house grew dirty around us. I don't often get sick, and as typical for a mom, if mom is sick, most likely she's not the only one sick, so she doesn't get to rest and recover until everyone else is better.

I have seen it pop up in Facebook feeds and dismissed it as yet another fad personality test, but then one day I took a quiz. I hated what I read about "my number", and so I took a couple versions of the test, all but one time landing on the same number. I then bought the book "Road Back to You," and listened to that podcast. Now I'm sucked into the vortext of Typology Podcast with Ian Cron. It turns out those tests are only a starting point and require completely honest responses to get close to the mark. The best way to determine your number is to read the descriptions of each and see which one makes you squirm the most, which means it is probably calling you out for things you've been trying to deny. I'm having a hard time typing myself. I can relate to many attributes of several numbers, and as a person who is fairly enmeshed in my family relationships, it can be challenging parsing out what is me versus what is them. What is my mother's voice in my head, and what is my own voice? My Myer's Briggs assessment of ENTP (more in the head than heart space) does not align with my Enneagram number, which is in the heart center of intelligence. Also, I've historically been drawn to the arts, music and writing (pretty typical for a Four on the Enneagram), but I've gotten a Ph.D. in engineering. However, I do see some nasty patterns in my life that the Four most resonates with... the pull-push of relationships, the feeling of never quite fitting in or having "missed the memo", the draw towards the melancholy, and the need to be unique or going against the grain in some way. (i.e. I'm not JUST a stay-at-home mom. I have a teaching, gardening, pottery blogging gig. See? I'm special. Of course I never feel I quite measure up.) I can also relate to the Achievers' (3) need for accomplishment and the Observers' (5) constant analysis of the world around them.

The beauty of the Enneagram as opposed to other typing systems is that it's not a way to describe how you make decisions, process information, handle conflict, or what your ideal occupation is. It is a heart and soul thing. It helps you see your greatest fear and your deepest longing and the way these can either reflect God and be your greatest strength in drawing others to Him or they can be the very things that spiral you into disintegration and decimate your relationships. So far, the value to me is in creating the space to reflect on my emotions, thoughts and actions and find the motives propelling me forward and holding me back, and discover the lies I'm believing about myself. Perhaps of even greater value is that it's creating space to understand other people in my life. Obviously I've known for a few years now that I'm not the center of the universe and that the lives of others are not lived in reaction to me, but seeing the full range of what could potentially be a person's motive (or fear) helps deepen my empathy and even foster patience towards them in times of conflict.

But it is ruining my life. Partly I'm fixated on zeroing in on my number, but partly I'm staring into the abyss of "Am I really missing something and is there something I need to change or is it just my wiring to always feel like I'm missing my calling?" This isn't fishing for external validation. People can tell me every day that raising kids is a huge calling or that I'm doing so much or that I've got it made. What I fear is letting life pass by an never having realized or attained something --- which I don't know what that something is. Is it a state of being or transcendence? No clue. It all stinks of self-absorption to me, but it's there and needs to be dealt with. It needs to be surrendered to God so it doesn't preoccupy by heart and mind. Here's a quote that sums it up. I think they are Ian Cron's words. "The purpose of the Enneagram is to show us how we can release the paralyzing arthritic grip we’ve kept on old, self-defeating ways of living so we can open ourselves to experiencing more interior freedom and become our best selves." So why is this ruining my life? It's not a bad thing, but it has ripped me out of auto-pilot. I can no longer just cruise through doing my thing. Honestly, my thing hasn't been working for awhile now, which is common. According to The Road Back to You, our "thing" gets us through childhood and out 20s, and then it destroys us. Yay.

 Go buy the book The Road Back to You and listen to the The Road Back to You Posdcast and Typology. It might mess you up too! I've included some affiliate links below. Purchases made through my affiliate links give me a small commission to help run this blog, but don't cost you any extra.

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  1. Ugh! Just be you. The one that God created. He doesn't try to analyze you nor should you. Not just because I'm your mom but you are a fabulous person. Multi dimensional, multi talented a tapestry as no other. A very special person making you unique as no other. Love you.

    1. Well that is the goal - to be the me that God created me to be :). There are just a few layers to peel back to get there.

    2. I do understand that you didn't post this to obtain validation, but, oh my goodness, I think you are amazing! As a little child you were unique, funny, compassionate, and creative. I don't see you as much now that you're an adult, but when I do, you seem to have those same qualities. You love God. You love your husband. You love your boys. And I hope you love yourself.

    3. Thanks! Well if anything, it's really freeing to know that how I feel about myself isn't necessarily truth. I might feel like I'm missing something essential, but I can choose to see it as a feeling and not fact... anyhow, feelings change :).

  2. Nice article. I know several people who use the Enneagram. It is wise to understand your strengths and weaknesses as it helps plan my route to more of what I want and helps me see more clearly here is where I can trip. Having more compassion for others means I have more for myself too, my children and other people learn it through observation and osmosis.